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Manufacturers Stand Strongly Behind Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation

As Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO, has been saying overseas in Germany and Belgium this week, ALL manufacturing is advanced manufacturing these days. It is fueled by innovation and technology that delivers life-changing and life-improving products. However, that sort of innovation doesn’t just happen – it takes effort, dedicated resources and a commitment from both the public and private sector.

The Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Technology is set to mark-up legislation tomorrow, S. 1468 that would authorize funding for manufacturing hubs across the country. The pilot program in Youngstown, Ohio has already delivered success in additive manufacturing solutions and we expect even greater things as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) expands.

The NAM strongly supports this legislation, and Timmons has highlighted it’s potential benefits to Chairman Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Thune (R-SD). The potential of these hubs are critical to our future way of life. As Timmons wrote, “The type of public-private manufacturing hubs that S. 1468 would authorize funding for would not only lead to groundbreaking developments that have the potential to be on par with the light bulb or the airplane but it will get these products to market faster and drive the growth of jobs in the United States versus outside our borders.”

Manufacturers will continue to stand behind the NNMI and legislation that will put the necessary resources behind it.

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Timmons Talks Advanced Manufacturing in Germany

NAM’s President and CEO Jay Timmons is in Hannover, Germany talking up manufacturing in the U.S. and the sleek, technology driven processes that make our nation the best place to make things in the world. Advanced manufacturing is a term that is often used, but the reality is that manufacturers have been the innovation leaders for decades and  ALL manufacturers know that to compete in a global marketplace they must use advanced processes and technologies.  The intersection of technology and manufacturing is a fascinating place – and the next generation of life changing products are coming out of shop floors in the United States.

Manufacturers spend more on research and development than any other sector of our economy. Companies like Harley Davidson, Texas Instruments and others are using sophisticated software and the Internet of Things to become more efficient and move through production more quickly. Timmons told the audience in Hannover these stories and rededicated manufacturers need for, and commitment to, innovation. He voiced his strong  support for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, “hubs” that are bringing together the private and public sectors to spur the development of new technologies, partnerships inspired by similar initiatives in Germany.

As Timmons remarked, “Our increasingly competitive global marketplace demands that manufacturers continue to strive for that technological edge.”

It’s trips and partnerships like these that will get us there.

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Today’s Cybersecurity Framework Must Not Lead to New Regulations Tomorrow

One year ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order on cybersecurity tasking the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to coordinate meetings with the private sector and produce a cybersecurity “framework” for owners and operators of critical infrastructure. The final version of that framework was released today after much input by all segments of manufacturing.

NIST held a series of workshops around the country and solicited feedback from the private sector on how best the government can partner with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to create this framework. They sought input on technology, standards, and implementation among other issues. The result is a 40+ page document that includes recommended activities and best practices to help secure networks and data in critical infrastructure sectors. The framework also provides “profiles” and “tiers” aimed at assisting organizations benchmark their current cybersecurity practices.

This framework and the related policy debate matter to all manufacturers because we are the owners, operators, and builders of critical infrastructure. Because of this all NAM members take cybersecurity very seriously and they welcomed the opportunity to work with the Administration on this important effort. Manufacturers understand that our economic security is linked directly to our cybersecurity. As the President rightly said in his statement issued today on the framework, “our economy is harmed by the theft of our intellectual property”. This is the reason that manufacturers go to great lengths to secure their enterprise and we were pleased to see many of our current best practices included in the framework.

As manufacturers and policymakers examine the framework, the NAM continues to stress that it must remain voluntary. Any attempt to turn these guidelines into mandatory regulations will have the opposite effect of enhancing cybersecurity. As the NAM has said numerous times to the Administration and Congress, the best way to increase cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure is to pass legislation that allows for the sharing of information between the public and private sector without the threat of liability for doing so.

The NAM looks forward to continuing our work with the Administration and Capitol Hill on this top priority for manufacturers.

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Keep the Internet Open for Business

The internet has helped drive manufacturing growth over the last two decades. The NAM witnessed this first-hand just last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The innovative ways manufacturers are using internet-based technology was the dominant theme found throughout the more than two million square feet of exhibit space. It was also made very clear by these same manufacturers that any unnecessary regulation of the internet may severely stifle this innovation.

We were pleased to see the D.C. Circuit agree yesterday when it decided that 20th century regulations should not be applied to the internet. NAM member companies have leveraged the internet to grow their business, their product and service offerings, to communicate with their customers and employees, and to revolutionize their shop floors.

For this growth to continue the internet needs to stay open for business and therefore the laws currently governing this space need to be updated. The Court’s decision affirms that telecommunication laws need to be brought into the 21st century in order to foster more innovation in the manufacturing industry. The NAM looks forward to working with Congress as they consider how to modernize our legal and regulatory system to reflect today’s technologies and the way that manufacturers use the internet.

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Spectrum is Rocket Fuel for Manufacturers

 

At this year’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show Gary Shapiro, CEO of NAM member Consumer Electronics Association which puts on CES said it was hard to find anything at the show that is not connected to the internet. Cars are embedded with microprocessors and refrigerators can now tell you when you are out of milk. For this communication to happen seamlessly all these innovations need one thing above all else: they need spectrum – or airwaves – to be available.

Manufacturers are well aware of the importance of spectrum availability to their business and their customers. They use it at their facilities, in their products and in their workforce. They have used it to make their enterprises more efficient ranging from advances in machine to machine technology to smart agriculture tools that can remotely tell the moisture and temperature levels of soil. As a panelist from Verizon said this week, there is an “expectation of connectedness” now. In short, manufacturers are dependent on it spectrum being available.

On a panel discussion we heard a representative from Samsung say that spectrum is rocket fuel for innovation. Frankly, given the innovative breakthroughs that manufacturers have pioneered, we think that spectrum is rocket fuel for manufacturing as well. Lawmakers and regulators must understand that any decisions made on spectrum need to include the manufacturing sector.

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Manufacturers Make the Internet of Things

Communicating electronically is no longer limited to just phones and computers. Everybody knows that. Many of us have televisions we use to go online and cars that give us driving directions.  But do any of you have a coffee cup that tells you if your baby is too hot in her crib with that extra blanket? How about a mousetrap that sends you a text when it needs attention? You don’t yet – but you will.

These are some of the innovations we saw coming from manufacturers this week at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. Intel announced a new chip with powerful built-in technology that can power garments equipped with sensors that can send a message to a display on coffee mug. Texas Instruments has used their expertise in innovation to develop a mousetrap that can be monitored remotely. Chevrolet has equipped their vehicles with technology so they are now wifi hotspots for all your devices.

All of these devices, sensors, phones, computers, appliances – basically everything and the kitchen sink connect electronically and collect data to help us work and live more efficiently. These billions of connections are being called the “Internet of Things” and it was a top theme at CES.

Manufacturers are leading the internet of things (IoT) revolution. We make and use the products, technology, and networks that power the IoT. This is why we launched the NAM D.A.T.A. Policy Center last year – to ensure policy makers and the general public know the innovative breakthroughs in all aspects of life come from manufacturers.

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Bumper to Bumper: Connected Cars Drive CES

Automobiles are double-parked all over the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show and we are not talking about the cab lines outside the convention center during the world’s largest technology trade show. All the major automakers from around the world have descended on CES to demonstrate the latest in vehicle technology.

From the official car of the 2014 CES, the Ford Mustang to a cherry red Chevrolet Stingray, there is quite a lot of horsepower on display to be sure. But what is a major theme on the show floor is how technology is making drivers safer, conserving fuel, and connecting drivers to the online world.

We saw remarkable heads up displays from Texas Instruments and learned how AT&T is working on conversational speech recognition technology.  Chrysler had its UConnect technology interactive demos. Our mouth was watering over Toyota’s i-Road and the FV2, its future mobility concept.

What we also learned that while far away from Las Vegas, regulators are on the minds of these innovators as they continue to push the envelope. If agencies in Washington, many of them not immersed in the transportation industry, push regulations too far this innovation will be stymied.

The NAM and our newly launched D.A.T.A. Policy Center will work to educate policymakers and the general public how important the connected car is to the growth of manufacturing in the U.S. and that Washington can play a role in ensuring there is no slowing down of this new technology.

Brian Raymond is the NAM’s Director of Technology Policy

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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at the NAM

Companies from a diverse set of industries converged at the NAM in mid-December to discuss the 2014 plan for the newly created NAM D.A.T.A. Policy Center. During and after the brainstorming session it became even clearer that the intersection of technology and manufacturing was at the corner of 10th and G Street, NW that day.

What we also learned in talking with our members is that those intersections span from Washington to every state in the union and to every country in the world. Manufacturers are the world’s leading innovators and the D.A.T.A. Center is set to launch a series of events in 2014 to showcase that leadership.

NAM members are not wasting any time and are starting the new year off just how they are ending the last one: demonstrating to a global audience just how innovative they are by being a part of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 6 -10 hosted by NAM member the Consumer Electronics Association. The NAM team is on the ground once again this year telling you from the front row what breakthroughs manufacturers are driving for their customers and partners. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and right here on Shopfloor.org to get up to the minute reports from the show floor.

Manufacturing is a highly-sophisticated industry and a technology leader. CES is just part of that story. The NAM D.A.T.A Center will tell you the entire story throughout 2014 by showcasing NAM member companies, their facilities, solutions, and innovative shopfloors. And while we are excited about what this year has to offer inside the D.A.T.A. center, we still remain committed to our technology policy agenda and making the U.S. the best place in the world to innovate. The D.A.T.A. Center will be an effective educational tool for public officials to better understand the intersection of manufacturing and technology, but at the end of the day, they still have to act. The NAM is committed to working with our leaders to making that happen.

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Abusive Patent Litigation Harmful to Manufacturers

Efforts are currently underway in both the House and Senate to address the issue of abusive patent litigation. As the industry that holds the most number of patents, manufacturers are the targets of many of these lawsuits. The NAM and our members agree: this practice needs to be stopped.

Intellectual property (IP) drives growth across the entire manufacturing ecosystem. From transportation, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, semiconductors, energy, consumer goods, to food and beverage – you name it – all manufacturing industry segments leverage their IP to help them compete in the global marketplace. When there is uncertainty in the protection of that IP or exposure to meritless lawsuits it hurts companies, their employees, and the overall competitiveness of those that manufacturer in the U.S.

Back in 2011, the NAM strongly supported the America Invents Act, a bill signed into law that is now helping to improve the patent application review system and therefore eliminate low-quality patents from being issued. However, filing of questionable lawsuits against patent holders unfortunately continues and more disincentives should be carefully crafted to target those who bring abusive suits. The NAM is pleased to see that Congress is aggressively going after those that abuse the litigation system and attempt to extort manufacturers.

Making the United States the best place in the world to innovate is a keystone of the NAM Growth Agenda. IP is the fuel of the manufacturing innovation engine. As a result, maintaining the ability of manufacturers to protect their IP without the threat of frivolous lawsuits is at the top of NAM’s policy priority list. We looking forward to working with Congress as the legislative process continues to move forward.

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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at Capitol Hill Hearing Today

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today had a hearing today titled “Challenges and Opportunities in the 5 GHz Spectrum Band.” Sound technical? Well, it is. Thankfully the panel of experts testifying today helped explain to Congress what lies ahead for a critical intersection of technology and manufacturing.

Witnesses from Toyota, Cisco, Comcast, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discussed a slice of spectrum, or airwaves, and how the automobile industry is using it to increase driver safety and what impact the deployment of wi-fi in that same slice of airwaves may have on these efforts.

John Kenney, Principal Researcher at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, CA testified extensively on how vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is a game-changer that will almost allow drivers to “see” around corners. Toyota along with the rest of the auto industry is “making significant progress towards our ultimate goal of zero casualties from traffic incidents,” Mr. Kenney explained to the committee today.

The NAM is fully aware of the importance of wireless technology to manufacturing. Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer Bob Friday agreed in his testimony when he said “And in manufacturing, workers are using mobile devices to get instantaneous alerts of equipment failure, to control machines remotely and to have real time video conversations with coworkers.”

The issue at hand is what impact the use of more wireless devices will have on this new technology and driver safety innovations. We applaud the Subcommittee, the regulators, and all the segments of the industry that are working together to ensure the extensive amount of innovation already achieved and the existing users of the spectrum are not negatively impacted and that all manufacturers, their customers, and consumers benefit as the process moves forward.

Brian Raymond is Director of Technology Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers

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